In a year of jazz centenaries, a celebration of the common thread – The Big Band
RONNIE SCOTT’S CELEBRATES THE BIG BAND: an explosive series of Big-Band concerts
May – October 2017
* Buddy Rich Big Band * Billy Cobham & Georgie Fame with the Guy Barker Big Band * MONK’estra * Curtis Stigers ‘Sinatra at the Sands’ * Mingus Big Band*
2017 is a big year for jazz. 100 years ago the ‘high priest of bop’, Thelonious Monk was born; trumpet innovator Dizzy Gillespie was born; ‘romanticist’ of the bop movement, Tadd Dameron was born; ‘Drum Wonder’ Buddy Rich was born, and of course, ‘The First Lady of Song’, Ella Fitzgerald was born. It therefore seems fitting that in the year we celebrate these remarkable centenaries, we celebrate the common thread that links them all – The Big Band. All of them came to prominence and played a crucial role in the history of jazz’s most powerful expression.
Ronnie Scott’s has long welcomed the vibrant power the big band unleashes in the club’s intimate environment, so over the next six months, Ronnie Scott’s celebrates this enduring configuration. With six deliciously different bands we celebrate this beast of the music scene with the Buddy Rich Big Band, drum legend Billy Cobham with the Guy Barker Big Band, John Beasley MONK’estra and Curtis Stigers performing ‘Sinatra at the Sands’ with Ronnie Scott’s very own Ronnie Scott’s Big Band, the legendary Mingus Big Band and Georgie Fame with the Guy Barker Big Band
Peaking in the mid – 30’s, big bands led by the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chick Webb and Benny Goodman produced a hit parade of tunes, becoming the big fashionable rock stars of their day. By the 40’s, teenagers were dancing to their records worshipping celebrity arrangers, soloists and star vocalists such as Dizzy, Monk, Buddy, Billie, Sinatra and Ella. Indeed, Chick Webb ‘discovered’ a teenage Ella in 1935 who, after Webb’s death, would lead his big band for a further 3 years. The big band dominated jazz’s golden era and continued throughout the 60’s, then onto the scene came Sun Ra, Gil Evans and even John Coltrane (on Ascension) all utilising the power and poise of the large ensemble to produce some of jazz’s most powerful statements.
Some say there has been a renaissance in the big-band – perhaps as an antidote to todays homogenized music machines – others say its popularity has never waned. They exist because they provide a big, bold, uplifting, sometimes brash, sometimes elegant sound. For Monk and Mingus the big-band was the truest vehicle for their compositions. For vocalists such as Ella and Frank, the big-band was thrilling and exciting. The same is true today. In recent times we’ve seen contemporary arrangements and new and exciting scores from bands as diverse as Snarky Puppy, Maria Schneider, Loose Tubes and Manchester’s Beats & Pieces all demonstrating that there is still life in jazz’s grandest form.
So let’s not forget, when celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of Ella, Monk, Dizzy and Buddy, that we celebrate their common thread – the big band. Here’s to the next 100 years.
Monday 22nd – Saturday 27th May
BUDDY RICH 100: THE BUDDY RICH BIG BAND with Cathy Rich, Dave Weckl and Gregg Potter
One of legendary drummer Buddy Rich’s last requests of his daughter, Cathy, was to keep his band working and his music alive. No easy task, but eventually the idea of an annual memorial concert was hatched with Cathy Rich producing the first in 1988 and thus began the story of these incredible shows. 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Buddy’s death and what would have been his 100th birthday, so to mark the occasions, the reformed Buddy Rich Big Band with one of the all-time great drummers, Dave Weckl, plus Buddy Rich Big Band drummer, Gregg Potter, bring to Ronnie Scott’s, all of the excitement, drive, and showmanship that Buddy brought to the stage throughout his career. This full blown big band charge through Buddy’s original charts playing classics such as Mercy, Mercy, Love For Sale, Nutville, and Birdland, along with new charts just as Buddy would have played them. The band comprises musicians from both the US and the UK, several of whom toured with Buddy himself and played on his last ever UK shows in 1986. Buddy’s daughter, Cathy Rich (who recorded the well-known 1967 hit with her father, ‘The Beat Goes On’) will host these very special shows.
Tickets: £30.00 – £55.00 / Doors 5.30pm & 9.30pm (two shows per night)
Monday 12th – Saturday 17th June
BILLY COBHAM WITH THE GUY BARKER BIG BAND
Legendary drummer Billy Cobham appears for a very special 6 night residency with the masterful composer, arranger and trumpeter Guy Barker and his Big Band. With his matchless, dazzling, ambidextrous skills, Cobham has applied the same insistent fervour to his long list of monumental achievements including his classic album ‘Spectrum’ and his stint in the original jazz-fusion juggernaut Mahavishnu Orchestra. He is also an accomplished composer and record producer. As one of the first percussionists ( along with Max Roach and Tony Williams) to utilize the Electronic Drum Controller made in 1968 by the Italian Meazzi Drum Company he was at the forefront of the electronic music industry and its development through jazz. Guy Barker has played with an array of jazz greats including John Dankworth, Gil Evans (with whose orchestra he toured and recorded with) Lena Horne and Ornette Coleman amongst others and his big band has won plaudits for his its ferociously talented players and explosive performances.
Tickets: £50.00 – £65.00 / Doors 6pm (two shows on Friday & Saturday, doors 10.30pm
Sunday 9th – Monday 10th July
JOHN BEASLEY PRESENTS MONK’ESTRA
Dubbed the “high priest of bop” for his pivotal role in the creation of new music in the 1940s, Thelonious Monk, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year, is one of jazz’s greatest composers, pianists and bandleaders writing such classics as Round Midnight, Straight No Chaser, Well You Needn’t, Epistrophy, Ruby My Dear and many, many more. Grammy-nominated musician John Beasley presents MONK’estra, a killer contemporary 15-piece big band that captures the spirit of Monk’s singular music – the off-beat melodies and humor, strange beauty and unbounded swing – in fresh arrangements flavored with New Orleans spirit, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban rhythms and atmospheric colours. Beasley is one of the most versatile musicians in jazz. A composer, keyboardist and arranger, he has performed with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Dianne Reeves to name a few and leads a sparkling career as bandleader and is also the Music Director for the Thelonious Monk Institute, International Jazz Day concerts. With an eye to the future the band pays loving tribute to the master’s music, while infusing it with contemporary harmonies, unstoppable grooves, and a contagious sense of fun. We think Monk would have loved it.
Tickets: £35.00 – £50.00 / Doors 5.30pm Sunday, two shows on Monday, 5.30pm & 9.30pm
Thursday 27th July: Cadogan Hall
Sunday 30th – Friday 4th August: Ronnie Scott’s
CURTIS STIGERS PERFORMS ‘SINATRA AT THE SANDS’ with the Ronnie Scott’s Big Band
With one of the most distinctive voices in music, singer, songwriter and saxophonist Curtis Stigers blazes a path as one of his generation’s finest and most original interpreters of modern songs. For this very special run, Stigers channels the hip, swinging chemistry of Frank Sinatra and the Count Basie Orchestra in a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Sinatra’s most beloved classic, ‘Sinatra at the Sands’. Magic was made on the stage of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas when the timeless cool of Frank Sinatra met the robust swing of the Count Basie Orchestra; the perfect marriage of old-school pop and big band jazz. This performance with the Ronnie Scott’s Big Band sees Stigers reinterpret Ol’ Blue Eyes’ cherished repertoire for modern ears, capturing the rare alchemy of hipness, elegance, playfulness and feeling that made Sinatra’s renditions of these songs immortal while adding his own unique twist. Careful to avoid being a slavish imitation of Sinatra, Stigers makes each song its own while retaining the essence of the Chairman’s unforgettable interpretations. Expect classics such as ‘Come Fly with Me’, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’, Makin Whoopee’ and ‘Fly Me To The Moon’.
Ronnie Scott’s: Tickets: £50.00 – £80.00 / Doors 6.30pm
Cadogan Hall: Tickets: £20.00, £37.50 www.cadoganhall.com
Monday 7th – Saturday 12th August
MINGUS BIG BAND
Described by the Times as “The most exhilarating night of the year” the Mingus Big Band is back! Arguably the greatest big band of them all, they return after the last four year’s acclaimed sold-out runs. There are few sounds in jazz as exciting as the rambunctious, hard-swinging Mingus Big Band, but then there have been few musicians and composers as dynamic and driven as the great, late Charles Mingus, who died in 1979. During his lifetime the great composer often struggled to keep a big band together and although his small group recordings are amongst the greatest in jazz it was always the voicings of the larger ensemble that Mingus wrote for. This then, is a unique chance to hear some of the most exciting music in jazz – heard how the composer wanted. Under the artistic direction of Sue Mingus, the Mingus Big Band appears for twelve shows in six nights in what will be some of the summer’s hottest tickets. And with a huge repertoire the band pride themselves on playing a different set every night – so no two shows are ever the same.
Tickets: £20.00 – £50.00 / Doors 5.30pm & 9.30pm (Mon-Thurs), 6pm & 10.30pm (Fri & Sat) 2 shows per night
Tuesday 3rd – Saturday 7th October
GEORGIE FAME WITH THE GUY BARKER BIG BAND
Now approaching his 75th birthday, Georgie Fame is a genuine legend of the British music scene. His cool vocals, superlative Hammond B-3 and blend of jazz and R&B earned him three number one hits in the early ‘60s and he was a key collaborator with Van Morrison. It was in the 1960’s that Fame began performing with big bands including many dates with the Count Basie Orchestra and then numerous big bands throughout Europe and Scandinavia and the USA. Having amassed an impressive library of arrangements by such notables as Tubby Hayes, Chico O’Farrell, Steve Gray and more, he is one of the most experienced male big-band vocalist around today. Yet, it’s performing with The Guy Barker Big Band that he calls ‘the Rolls-Royce version of my music’. Jazz trumpeter, composer and acclaimed big band arranger Guy Barker has played with an array of jazz greats and with Barker’s Big band (that always features some of the finest names in UK jazz) they strike a balance between ferocious virtuosity and sophistication, and downright, big, brash and bluesy. Expect an explosive, rip-roaring set of swinging soul-jazz and classic R&B.
Tickets: £50.00 – £75.00 / Doors tbc